BRATTLEBORO — After graduating college, I moved back home to Brattleboro for a short time. I started working at an office on the crest of High Street, and every day I'd rumble down the hill on my way home.
I'd see one of my favorite vignettes of my hometown this way - Mount Wantastiquet - along with red brick buildings, overflowing flowerpots, and passersby on foot.
However, a regular occurrence started to sour my view.
At first they were few, then they were many: Protestors with egregious signs lined High Street, congregating in front of Planned Parenthood, obscuring the flowerpots and passersby. Now, I was forced to stare at them, as they forced me to read fabrications they printed on their signs.
Let's be clear - Planned Parenthood offers lifesaving care that includes birth control, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, cancer screenings, and free menstrual products.
Once, I called Planned Parenthood to warn them: "I see them coming around the corner with their signs! Board up the windows, lock the doors!" But the staff member I spoke to just sighed, thanked me, and said they knew they would be there every Tuesday afternoon.
These protestors were not members of our community; rather, they were people bussed up from a private college in Massachusetts. A private college that took over the campus of the former Northfield School for Girls - a school founded with the mission to provide education and opportunity to girls from underserved communities.
When I found this out, the irony was not lost on me.
* * *
I quickly began dreading driving home on Tuesdays. Not so carefree anymore, I raced down the hill with my fists clenched and eyes fixed straight ahead, willing the light to please be green.
After several weeks of this, my harbored outrage spurred me to take action. I asked around until I found organizers from the Planned Parenthood Vermont Action Fund.
For the past two years I have volunteered with them via writing, phone banking, tabling, and organizing. As a community, we helped to pass the Reproductive Liberty Amendment, which enshrines every Vermonter's right to reproductive health care.
Volunteering makes me feel like I'm part of change-making that matters. It has allowed me to loosen the grip on my steering wheel and stare right back at those protesters, fully knowing our work was more impactful than any fiction they could hold up on a piece of paper.
It would have been very easy to allow these protestors to take my Tuesdays, but volunteering with Planned Parenthood has allowed me to take it back.
Eve Pomazi is a volunteer with the Planned Parenthood Action Fund in Brattleboro.
This Voices Essay was submitted to The Commons.